Iowa State's Irving Is Inside Man

By Rob Gray, Reporter

Tools

By Grant Burkhardt

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State defensive lineman David Irving arrived at the meeting room door and met an unexpected detour.

Change of plans — and position.

“One day I walked in and it was like, ‘ Hey, go to this meeting room,’” said the 6-7, 272-pound junior. “So I went. It was all good.”

Irving’s no longer trying to make a living on the edge as a defense end.

Now he’s plying his trade inside as a defensive tackle, where there’s less experience — and it’s, in his words, “a whole new world.”

Not a bad one, either.

“Actually, now that I’m at D-tackle I’ve gotten more sacks this camp than I had at defensive end,” said Irving, who lit up the highlight reel last season with an athletic tip, then interception and touchdown to help cement an upset win at TCU. “I feel like I’m closer to the quarterback now; I don’t have to stab so far, so I’m liking it.”

Coaches are pleased with Irving’s progress after three practices at the position.

“David has excelled, no surprise to us,” Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said.

Irving’s play-making ability is beyond dispute.

His areas for growth — such as consistently playing at proper pad level — coincide with those of many of the other tackles.

“He’s got long, long levers, which is good and bad,” defensive tackles coach Shane Burnham said. “The bad part is when he doesn’t play with knee bend and he doesn’t keep his chest down, it’s easy to give up up and down leverage. But because he’s long, when he does play with up and down leverage, he’s able to have side to side leverage because he can keep guys off his body. So it’s a double-edged sword with David right now — and the same with (fellow tackle Rodney) Coe. It’s just different inside.”

One of the biggest differences entails adjusting to double teams.

“It is more physical down there,” Irving said. “You have to have a different type of attitude. I’m getting with the program.”

Proper technique becomes especially important and raw athleticism can’t as easily compensate for a lack of it.

“I really believe it begins with the state of mind, going inside,” Rhoads said. “A lot of ends don’t ever want to be told they’re going inside because they are taking on that double team. He’s done a nice job just taking off and going and allowing himself to be coached.”

Burnham’s now in charge of that — and was excited when he saw Irving cross the threshold a few days ago.

“Anytime somebody like that walks into your position room, you get excited,” Burnham said. “One of those big bodies you like.”

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